Monday, October 19, 2009
Ten minutes of butterflies.
It has been great to be back in Missouri.
For several days my family and friends have been visiting, bringing me back to reminisce town life and my "pre-circus" days. Not for a moment though do I regret joining Casey's crew on the Kelly Miller Circus. I was conversing with the gentleman that helped me get a job at the car dealership and learned things could not be much worse in the automobile industry. To forego long details, there is no doubt in my mind I made the best decision to leave it all behind and pursue a dream.
To change subjects, the tiger act has taken a few jumps of improvement in the last week. To preface the events, I would first like to share a story my father told me. During his tenure as manager of Riddle's Elephant Sanctuary, there was never an easy or slow day when one is in charge of fifteen elephants, nearly half of which are mature males. However, no matter how hot the day or unending the work, he would also take a late afternoon break to witness one of the young calves chasing butterflies around her yard. There are a few moments in life that counter balance all the struggle and heartache we experience, which he described as his "Ten minutes of butterflies." I have had a few of those moments in my first year working with tigers, though none as strong as this afternoon when Shonti rolled over with the four adult tigers.
Upon my arrival on Kelly Miller, Shonti was seat & leash trained. The only trick she performed in the show was the backward shoulder stand, an action only performed by two other trainers in the past (Charly Bauman and Wade Burck). Skipping foward five months, she performs two additional tricks int he show - laying down/sitting up with the group and sliding under the adults as a comedy bit. Watching her progress everyday with her training and later observing its involvement in the show is very gratifying. I too have experienced my ten minutes of butterflies.